Tuesday, April 06, 2010

USPS Clubs Baby Seals

I wanted to title the post "USPS Has No Sense Of Humor", but I was not trying to be funny. I was serious. I considered my mail serious art. Yet USPS rejected it. So much for the trouble. The title honestly reflects how I feel about USPS, justified or not.

The story begins when I read a post on creative young fellows at Syracuse University who came up with the concept of a Google Maps Envelope. Read the post before proceeding with my story here.

The creative folk I am, I decided to try it myself and after a couple of hours of experimenting with Google Maps and MS Word, came up with this masterpiece (addressed to a friend):

Then I waited for my friend to receive it, before I can post about it on Facebook. Little did I know that USPS isn't in the business of fostering creativity. Two days after I posted the envelope, I find my own mail in my mailbox, returned to sender. Here's the clubbed baby seal:

Yeah, they returned it. The envelope was still unopened, but I saw signs of (unsuccessfully) trying to pry it open without tearing it. I am glad that my glue was strong enough for them. I am glad for them too, because the letter inside was in Hindi which they wouldn't have understood anyway.

I knew I must have fallen foul to one of USPS' commandments, so I got searching on their website. Sure enough, their Delivery Address page listed my innumerable heinous crimes, including:

    • (Not) All capital letters
    • Punctuation
    • (Not) Two spaces between State and ZIP
    • (Not) Black ink on white or light paper
    • Fancy fonts and background patterns

I think the last two got me. Looking at the Return Address page, I noticed that I also made the mistake of not placing the return address on top left corner. This may explain why my address is crossed out, but I have always used this format (including over two dozen mails in US), so I don't know why it should matter.

So party's over guys. Concept is cute as a baby seal, but USPS would club it. Now don't try this at home...I mean don't try this in USA.